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The Dose: Women are ‘Stormborn’ in the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ episode

The Dose: Women are ‘Stormborn’ in the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ episode

The Dose: Women are ‘Stormborn’ in the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ episode
July 25
13:33 2017

A look at the themes and major plot points in the second episode of the seventh season of “Game Of Thrones.”

Katie Jenkins | Senior Staff Photographer

Michael Vu | Staff Writer

The battle for the lands of Westeros escalated once again with an excellent followup to the season premiere last week. Now Cersei’s power has grown thanks to a new Qyburn creation, Sansa may control the North in the weeks to come, and while Daenerys strategizes in her family’s ancestral palace, she has a council of the most powerful women in Westeros at her side. This was a hell of a week for women in “Game of Thrones.”

The show also decided to let the action take a backseat for most of this episode, and let some major characters shine through some surprising turns and character developments. Viewers were also treated to a few answers to fan theories, and an amazingly horrifying battle to end the episode and begin the War for Westeros.

The episode was full of quite a few favorite “Game of Thrones” elements: power warfare and the imprints of the past. Although the episode’s director Mark Mylod is not a fan-favorite, the scenes came together with creative success. We also got another taste of humorous scene transitioning, similar to what we got in episode one at the citadel. But instead of moving from food to feces, we received a hilarious edit of Jorah’s exposed pus skin juxtaposed into a cracked open tavern pie.

The show’s opener gave watchers another gorgeous view of Dragonstone, but in the rain this time, and with the added irony of this Targaryen’s return to Westeros being the same as her last departure. Fans even wonder if Daenerys has control of the stormy weather that follows her around.

“Incompetence should not be rewarded with blind loyalty.”

Varys’ character grew in so many ways in “Stormborn,” especially for someone who never reveals himself, even amongst his friends. Daenerys is attacking Varys with fair intensity, as he has plotted against current rulers before. It would probably be strange if she didn’t question him.

The response he gave to these attacks was a heartfelt and defensive monologue about his true drives, that he will always do what is best for the people. Out of all the schemers in “Game of Thrones,” Varys hadn’t always seemed to be the good guy either. However with this statement, Varys shows his true nobility of character. He could even be seen as the foil to the selfish schemer, Lord Baelish, who only wants power.

This scene recalls the previous episode, “Dragonstone,” when Sansa tells Jon that he needs to be smarter than his father to survive. Varys has always used his smarts to stay alive, and he will follow his own smart choices. Sansa also brought up this idea last episode when she mentioned that Joffrey was a horrible king because nobody questioned him or checked his actions. Varys doesn’t want to blindly serve a Joffrey king, and Daenerys doesn’t want to become one. These are very modern political attitudes to have in a medieval world.

For the most part, the “Game of Thrones” government is an absolute monarchy where the people don’t have any power concerning who’s in charge. However, with Varys’ selfless intentions out in the open, and Dany basically appointing him as her representative of the people, a more democratic kind of rule seems to be taking root in Westeros.

“Tell Jon Snow that his queen invites him to come to Dragonstone, and bend the knee.”

Season seven has been a game changer for Daenerys so far. Yes, she has always been assertive in her goals. However in “Stormborn,” her first true episode back in Westeros, she plays her cards with some fire in her words. Her smiles are replaced by small smirks now, and she uses an abrasive demeanor when directing orders.

In this scene, the red priestess Melisandre also brings us the first conversation about an alliance between Jon and Daenerys forming, and the roles that they will both have in the prophecy of Azor Ahai, “The prince that is promised.”

Thanks to a proper translation of the prophecy by Daenerys’ linguist, Missandei, fans theories are buzzing again about the possibilities of Daenerys as the reborn hero. Many speculations about who Azor Ahai will be in the last seasons of the show have mentioned candidates like the Hound, Jon, Daenerys and even Tyrion.

Both Jon and Daenerys want allies right now, but for two different wars making their fateful meetup a worrisome one. However, since Daenerys is in the mood to play the tough love card, their relationship might not end up as amicable as is hoped. In the throne room, Tyrion even cracks a downward anxious glance after Daenerys demands Jon’s allegiance.

This is highlighted again later in the episode as the northerners are nothing but suspicious when discussing a Targaryen return. This could raise an interesting turn of events, especially once the northerners find out Jon’s true Targaryen parentage. We can only hope next episode bodes well for them.

“Do you fight with us, or with foreign savages and eunuchs?”

Though Cersei Lannister doesn’t have too many scenes in “Stormborn,” her character still showed great relevance for what is to come. In such an ironic fashion, Cersei uses her screen time to fear monger the savage image of the invader, Daenerys, into the minds of anyone listening. Cersei herself has used violence on many occasions to solve her problems and keep her legitimacy for the throne clear.

Jamie also tries to sell the fearful foreign invader to Lord Tarly, and he doesn’t quite buy it. It was comforting to know Tarly has some bit of honor in him, even though the next scene pans to the face of his wrongly disowned son, Samwell.

The importance of this scene lies in the the fact that Cersei and Jaime can’t use fear well enough to ensure the allies their needs. Compared to another character who is using the “fear of the unknown dragon princess” to her advantage, Cersei’s diplomatic tactics seem to be failing her, and her grip on the iron throne weakens.

“You’re a dragon, be a dragon.”

It was interesting for the directors to start a scene of strategy at Daenerys’ table with bickering. Again, they are playing up the drama of the past that would inevitably come up when putting a bunch of major characters in a room together, such as Ellaria poisoning Tyrion’s niece. The past is very important in this episode, and when Olenna sits down with Daenerys for a one-on-one, I was quickly reminded of conversations we have all seen before, between Olenna and Margaery. When they were in King’s Landing, surrounded by enemies, Olenna taught her granddaughter how to survive during Joffrey’s reign. Seeing as Daenerys is already adopting a more fiery persona, we can assume she will take Olenna’s advice and push her fight forward with more strength.

No shades of Greysendai

This was the one scene that had many viewers at a loss for words. Not because it was amazing, but because it was kind of awkward. Grey Worm’s monologue of how losing Missandei’s love was his first fear ever was a very tender and heartfelt moment that showed how even the men who can’t feel physical pain can have emotional troubles. However, though his character growth was admirable, the placement of it around such other important information made it seem like a small event.

The scene felt like the directors were just giving fans what they wanted, not building much more of the story. Ever since their first kiss, fans have wanted Missandei and Greyworm to be some kind of couple. Now they really are and that’s great. However with all said and done, the scene feels out of place, and just a few minutes too long.

“You’re not dying today, Sir Jorah.”

When Sam comes to save Jorah with some late night experiments, he catches him in the middle of writing a note to Daenerys. Though the view of the words is all fuzzed out in the frame, it seems likely that Jorah was relaying to his queen what the Archmaester said to him earlier: that he cannot be saved from this greyscale.

Though it is a small detail, Sam walks right over to Jorah’s desk, and places his book of experiments right over the top of the letter. Sam literally stamps out the negativity following him around, and takes control of this hopeless situation. The importance here lies within the demeanor that Sam can take away for the more difficult moments to come. Perhaps he will choose to help rather than abandon all hope in the wars to come, even if he never picks up a sword again.

Arya’s old friends

It was surely a wonderful time for viewers seeing an old friendly face like Hot Pie’s. Again, a person of the past has come back to greet in this episode. He mentions how Arya has changed, but that she is a survivor like him. She didn’t even make much eye contact with him while they chatted, making it seem like Arya is lost to her list and her facelessness. However, Hot Pie said hello for more than just that. Thanks to his information about Jon being the new King in the North, Arya decided to go home instead of to King’s landing.

Many viewers were happy to see that the short promo of Arya stuck in the cold woods was not a White Walker attack, but rather another reunion for her with the past: her Direwolf Nymeria showed herself.

Some would say this scene is a chance for Arya to revel in the idea of a carefree life could have lived, before the madness of politics rained down on her family. However, the creators Weiss and Benioff mentioned in an ‘Inside the Episode” segment that this scene was actually meant to remind us of season one Arya, when she tells her father that the princess life is not for her. She literally says “that’s not me,” which is almost a complete copy of her words to Nymeria. “That’s not you” means that the simple, domesticated life was never meant for her wolf, and neither for Arya.

The importance of this scene really shines through in the facial expressions that Maisie Williams portrayed. Her character has gone through some of the hardest transitions of any character. But seeing her warming up to news about Jon, and seeing her direwolf leave once again, showed viewers that she has more depths to explore in the coming episodes.

Arya has never been just some two-dimensional character out for revenge, but rather a damaged girl who may has finally found some solid ground.Though it pained her to see Nymeria leave, she has just given Arya the best reminder in the world. If she, or viewers, were ever unsure about her fate, all can rest assured that the wild life has always been a part of who she is.

The Silent Battle

Let’s all agree that Euron Greyjoy’s kraken drop-down into Yara’s ship was definitely one of the most epic and memorable entrances of any character in the history of the show. This brutal and bloody battle has now crippled Daenerys’s plans before her army can even touch land. However, the intense surprise of the attack made it seem like there may be a traitorous informant in Daenerys’s council.

Though choppily edited a couple times, the battle scene was fantastically crafted, giving viewers a great sense of scale. The scene was only lit by the flames and embers of the burning wood around them, which looked beautifully brutal amongst the slaughter onboard. In interviews with HBO, the directors and actors revealed that they used actual flames in the scene, making it trickier to work around on top of dealing with a wet shipdeck floor and a crowded set. Even with the challenges, the effort shined through regardless.

To heighten drama further, Euron’s ship was manned by an entire crew of mutes with their tongues cut out. At the end of the battle, his mute crew members cut off the tongues of Yara’s crew survivors, so that they could become the new recruits for any of Euron’s lost men.  

Euron’s competency with this scene shows that though he can seem unhinged and cocky, he is still a masterful strategist and a formidable fighter, leading the charge into battle when called upon. He will be a formidable opponent for Daenerys, as she continues to vie for the iron throne.

With a show juggling so many characters, some fans are worried it might not have enough space to continue fleshing everything out. After all, there are only five episodes left this season. Although they spent half of this episode in throwbacks to the past, it was worth it to spend time reminding viewers why they love “Game of Thrones.”

Featured Image: Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) heads to the North upon hearing news of Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) leading the efforts against the Lannisters. Courtesy of HBO.

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Katie Jenkins

Katie Jenkins

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